Taking place at the same time as the Equatorial Guinea v Gabon match, the Burkina Faso Stallions facing the Red Devils of Congo to see who can make the knockout phases of AFCoN 2015. Congo only needed a point to progress so for Burkina it was simply win or go home, but without a goal in the competition so far they would need to improve in front of goal. Beaten finalists two years ago, they have failed to spark to life thus far in Equatorial Guinea so a case of now or never to find their scoring boots against what has been an organised Congolese defence with only one gaol conceded in the finals so far.
The capacity crowd, this time in the Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin, was once again treated to a slow start, Congo happy to kill the game with plenty of free-kicks given away all over the pitch. The first clear-cut chance came just after the twenty minute mark when Delvin N’Dinga, with fantastic vision put Thievy Bifouma through on goal with a sublime through ball. Bifouma was only able to strike wide though but the warning sides were there for the Stallions, Congo seemingly in control of the game and able to counter-attack at will. The golden boy of the last tournament and top goal-scorer in qualification Jonathan Pitriopa was able to fashion half a chance for Burkina, shooting over the bar after a nice chest-down but much like Aubeyamang for Gabon, has lacked the quality in service to really shine this time around.
Into the second half and perhaps it was once more, the magic of Mr Claude Le Roy, Congo taking the lead shortly after the break. The goal was made to look easy, Dore put through in acres of space, albeit from what seemed to be an off-side position, he was able to run through on goal and square for Bifouma to score his fifth and surely his easiest international goal. This was a real blow for Burkina Faso who had started the second half well and coming close to scoring what would have been a bizzare goal from goalkeeper Germain Sanou who’s clearance bounced over opposite number Mafoumbi in the Congolese goal, but rolling just inches wide. The second half continued with chances at either end in an attractive encounter with plenty of good football. There was a brief moment of hope for The Stallions faithful when after 85 minutes they were finally to register a goal at AFCoN 2015. And what a way to open your account, Aristide Bance guiding a Issiala Ouedraogo cross past Mafoumbi for a quality finish. the hope lasted merely a minute though, Sanou making a hash of an attempted punched clearance, allowing Fabrice Ondamo to nod into an empty net, game over.
It’s worth noting that this result means coach Claude Le Roy has now taken teams to the knockout stages in seven of the eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments he has appeared at, with five different countries. Post match he expressed his joy in getting Congo this far, stating anything from her on in is a bonus but who would bet against the going all the way from here? Paul Put, coach of the disappointing Stallions could only bemoan the fact that luck was not on Burkina Faso’s side, but one goal in three games gives the real reason they have not emulated the fantastic achievements of 2 years ago. Pitriopa remains one for the future and one that we hope to see at many Africa Cup of Nations to come.